Today’s post is going to be a less cohesive than usual since I moved to my new place this past Tuesday night and have a lot to do on my one day off from work, with buying some groceries being very high on that list. Seriously, though, I need food.
[Very valid] Excuses having been made, let’s talk a little bit about how we present ourselves. This shouldn’t be hard seeing as you’re on the internet right this very instant, and you can make like a future employer and type your name into Google to see what pops up. Anything and everything found online, from that garish was-cool-in-the-early-00’s Myspace page to your I-sure-hope-I’ve-added-enough-job-experience LinkedIn account, is something that you can potentially be judged on.
It probably shouldn’t be, but it’s a lot for a single person to keep track of. Now imagine being a business or organization.
Just this week DC Comics faced an incredible amount of criticism due to some of apparel featuring their characters, in particular the vastly different messages that were being communicated in their boys’ and girls’ clothing lines.
It’s nothing new, of course, and as a Marvel fan myself I’ll admit that the “World’s Greatest Comics Company” is just as guilty of having done this themselves. These appear to go a step too far, though, as the shirt on the left was actually edited to make it even more sexist than it already is. On the right is the actual cover art the design was based on, and you’ll notice immediately that the lass Wonder Woman was holding was photoshopped out, leaving her arm and fist in a very awkward position.
Luckily for all of us, legendary comic book artist Bill Sienkiewicz found this jarring enough to warrant correction, and illustrated how he imagined the the full shirt, front and back, would look like:
Enough about that design in particular [as laughably bad as it is], because what I want to continue discussing is how all actions reflect on those who make them.
The criticism of these shirts drew so much attention that a DC Entertainment spokesperson has actually officially responded to it, releasing the following statement:
“DC Comics is home to many of the greatest male and female Super Heroes in the world. All our fans are incredibly important to us, and we understand that the messages on certain t-shirts are offensive. We agree. Our company is committed to empowering boys and girls, men and women, through our characters and stories. Accordingly, we are taking a look at our licensing and product design process to ensure that all our consumer products reflect our core values and philosophy.”
As Comics Alliance contributor Janelle Asselin points out these shirts were not “produced by DC Comics itself or by its parent [sic] cpmpany Warner Bros., but they are tees that have to be approved by one or the other.” No clothing company can just decide to slap Superman and Wonder Woman on a shirt and release it to the masses, there’s a system in place where people have the responsibility to give products the go-ahead, and clearly there are times when this process isn’t quite as effective as it should be.
Allow me paint a broad, ridiculous parallel example. If a McDonald’s employee
decided to bring in an old Apple desktop,
break it into small pieces, form those pieces into patties and serve them with ♪ special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – on a sesame seed bun ♫ that would probably not be okay. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the corporation as a whole would probably be blamed for it by people picking microchip fragments out of their gums. The added bit information of course has to be that a supervisor saw him hunched over the iMac with a hammer, pounding away, and let him keep on doing what he was doing.
I want to say that this should expand to corporations’ social media accounts, though I’m honestly not sure how much impact a tweet made in poor taste has on their market share. Really, though, there are companies out there who need to tell their interns to maybe step away from the keyboard and think for just a second [and some who should pat them on the back and tell them to keep doing what they’re doing]-
This all circles back around, in a way, to a topic that we’ve covered a fair amount: oversensitivity. When every move we make is being watched how do we keep from being paralyzed with fear?
That sentiment is just as present here as it is anywhere else. Gordon actually asked me to okay his post on the “Yes Means Yes” Bill to make sure that he wasn’t being offensive [hint, he wasn’t, you should go read it]. Along with that I ensure that whenever he uses the words “we here at Culture War Reporters” in support of a point that I actually do agree with what he’s saying. As editor of this blog I don’t necessarily agree with everything my co-writers do, and want that to be clear.
All in all this has been a rather disjointed post on personal representation and responsibility and everything that we normal, regular internet-using humans have to deal with on a daily basis [while waiting until the very last paragraph to remind you all that the jobs we actually have are at stake]. But when it comes to companies and corporations how much flak should they get for every little decision made by those far from the chain of command? Can we really blame Denny’s as a chain for the following gif posted to their tumblr page?